60's British Pop Culture
March 3, 2002 12:36 PM   Subscribe

60's British Pop Culture Shirley Bassey. Tom Jones. Sandie Shaw. Cliff Richard. Petula Clark. Gordon Banks. Jane Brikin. Charlotte Rampling. Twiggy. Julie Christie. Patrick McGoohan. Peter O' Toole. Terence Stamp. What a decade. Oozing coolness.
posted by Voyageman (45 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Totally gear site! I was a bit apprehensive seeing the Fab Four on the front page, but it seems to be a well-rounded collection of the famous, nearly-famous, and somewhat obscure. Always nice to see Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll, The Creation, and Joe Meek. However, I'm a bit miffed that my main boogeyman, Screaming Lord Sutch only gets the briefest of mentions as one of Meek's acts; SLS deserves an entry all his own.
posted by MrBaliHai at 1:13 PM on March 3, 2002

Sad snaps to BaliHai. I had no idea he had committed suicide. His later antics have diminished him to the status of Moster Raving Loony in people's memories, but Sutch had one of the great bands back in the early days. The list of people who passed through is amazing, not least the great Carlo Little, the man who taught Keith Moon how to drum.

Cool site, Voyageman.
posted by rodii at 1:20 PM on March 3, 2002

(Other underrated faves in their list: Caravan, the Pretty Things, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, The Tremeloes.)
posted by rodii at 1:26 PM on March 3, 2002

rodii: sadly, I was in Reading, England trying to arrange an interview with Sutch shortly before he died. I went on to write a tribute article illustrated with a number of photos that Carlo Little and his daughter Giselle graciously scanned for me.
posted by MrBaliHai at 1:32 PM on March 3, 2002

Sadly I wasn't born then. Child of the Eighties and all that.

The problem here is that the British film `industry' is
very small and cannot sustain the large amount of talent
that this country produces.

Sounds like a paradox to me. There are a lot of great, admittedly small, British films in production all the time featuring local talent. Sadly, however, the distribution structure is run by Americans who oddly enough want to see their product in the market place. So UK films usually have v. small releases or none at all unless they're so bland they'll sell in any market ('Billy Elliot', 'The Full Monty').
posted by feelinglistless at 1:49 PM on March 3, 2002

Cheers, Voyageman, mate!

In continental Europe British Pop was always seen as provincial, coy, not dangerous and above all, not taken seriously enough. The Stones and the Beatles were not only as "safe as milk", in John Lennon's expression, but drearily tongue-in-cheek.

The true glamour and talent in the later Sixties, whiteboy-wise, came from the States - Dylan, the Velvets, the Doors, the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Buffalo Springfield; dozens of other luminaries - precisely because it was for real; taken through to its limits; not a fashion, Carnaby Street, ridiculously European white-boys-pretending-to-be-black-American-bluesmen thang.

I guess it must work the other way round for Americans. But European Sixties Pop may be pleasant and droll and tuneful. But it didn't, well, sound true.

Perhaps Jimi Hendrix is the Anglo-American exception that proves the rule; like rodii's favourite poet, T.S.Eliot... ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:58 PM on March 3, 2002

Bali- You write for Cool and Strange? You are now officially my hero.

I gotta beg to differ on seriousness, Miguel, the truest believers in rock history, The Who, were of course British. All the bands you mentioned(all of whom I love) looked to the British bands for inspiration, who of course looked back as well. The Brits may have used ironic distance and other Pop Art techniques more than us Yanks, but they were in it for real.

I'm just bummed they didn't expand the definition of the British Empire to include Australia so the Easybeats(one of the most underrated bands in history) sould get a shout-out.

Otherwise, terrific site, Voyageman.
posted by jonmc at 2:32 PM on March 3, 2002

[actually playing "Friday on My Mind", courtesy KaZaa]

OK, brother jonmc: but surely you must find it strange that Pete Townsend became, like T.S.Eliot before him, an editor at Faber and Faber. I love the Who but, after all the mayhem, I just know it was down to the pub for a pint.

Keith Moon, like Brian Jones, was, of course, a secret American. And Sergeant Pepper's was a response to Pet Sounds; not the other way round.

The most Who-like British band around; my all-time favourite for the week; is Primal Scream. That Bobby Gillespie - now he's serious! Actually what I said about the (non-existent)"British" applies only to the Southern English. Northern Englishmen, the Welsh and above all, the Scots(Roddy Frame!)are as good as Yanks. Would you agree?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:48 PM on March 3, 2002

You write for Cool and Strange?

Yeah, I've written a couple of articles for Dana. No big thing, it's mostly a labor of love 'cuz he only pays $25 per article. I also contributed a couple of music pages to the latest edition of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader...my literary career has floated to the top of the bowl. But enough about me.

Miguel, now that we know how you feel about Britpop, I suppose that you must think Ye-Ye is really lightweight stuff? What about Serge Gainsbourg?
posted by MrBaliHai at 2:59 PM on March 3, 2002

Keith Moon, like Brian Jones, was, of course, a secret American.

It's true. He loved surf music, and not that wimpy Beach Boys stuff, but Dick Dale-style Inland Empire hot rod music, best of all.

But anyone who thinks all British pop was safe hasn't paid attention to, besides the 'Oo, the Pretty Things, the Animals (or do they not count because they're Geordies, Miguel?), Lord Sutch, the Outlaws, the Yardbirds, Johnny Kidd, Them (OK, Irish), Man (OK, Welsh), the Small Faces, or one of the most misunderstood bands of the time, the Kinks. Miguel's just jealous because, with about three exceptions, Europeans just never figured out how to rock. (smiley?)
posted by rodii at 3:12 PM on March 3, 2002

Rodii: The Kinks were very good, but very English. American bands, like American films, are universal. Remember "The Village Green Preservation Society"? Their best album - but is it as universal as the great American records? Hell, no. Anyway, Ray Davies did marry Chrissie Hynde; though she later married that "Don't You Forget About Me" dork, Simple Mind vocalist Jim Kerr, a Scot.

I maintain you find British bands cool because they're far away and foreign. We're the other way round. Besides, you shouldn't even know what Geordies are. How many times have you listened to Status Quo after fifteen Newkie Browns?

with about three exceptions, Europeans just never figured out how to rock

I agree wholeheartedly - but three? Name names! You're not thinking of that Plastic Bertrand fellow you mentioned a few decades ago are you? What does plane for you, European-wise?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:24 PM on March 3, 2002

Name names!

Just off the top of my head I'd pick Jacques Dutronc (France) and Los Brincos (Spain) as a couple of very authentic European rock acts from the Sixties. Maybe Johnny Halliday too, but he was mostly just a Francophone Elvis.

...and are you sure you weren't puking to Status Quo after all those Newkies?
posted by MrBaliHai at 3:37 PM on March 3, 2002

Rocky Roberts (Italy). Los Bravos (Spain). Watusi (Italy). I Giganti (Italy)
posted by Voyageman at 3:43 PM on March 3, 2002

This is so embarrassing. Los Bravos? Jacques Dutronc? Johnny Fuckin' Halliday? Why not Sylvie Vartan and Adamo; Rita Pavoni and Michel Polnareff, now that you're at it? Stop it immediately! It's like saying my sisters are sexy. Leave us Europeans some illusions about your better judgement, you...you Frogs!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:55 PM on March 3, 2002

BTW ...The carefree sixties spirit has never left the masterful Italian music ceremony Festival San Remo which begins tomorrow (an hours drive from St Tropez) Eros, Zuchero, Dalla, Morandi , all started or paraded through there in the past. Kylie Minogue Alanis Morissette. Anastacia, Shakira, Michael Bolton Gabrielle, Destiny's Child, Alicia Keys, The Cranberries, The Corrs e Britney will all be guesting next week.
posted by Voyageman at 3:56 PM on March 3, 2002

"The Village Green Preservation Society"

Picking their tweeest record to make your case isn't really, um, cricket, Maurice. Besides which, you're wrong.

Anyway, I'm hep to those American bands too. I was just thinking as I idled in my bath today that I could give a rock'n'roll tour of Ann Arbor! Iggy's trailer park, the Discount records where he worked, Scott and Ron Asheton's parents' house, the houses where the MC5 lived. When it comes to those California wuss-bands you named, remember, THE STOOGES KICK ASS. Iggy would eat the Doors alive!
posted by rodii at 4:04 PM on March 3, 2002

Thank Hamburg for giving the Beatles their early training.

My big question about the 60s is - Why is Pete Townsend sometimes Pete Townshend?
posted by emf at 4:05 PM on March 3, 2002

Iggy would eat the Doors alive!

But Iggy is alive; whereas Jim is dead in Paris. The Stooges and The Doors are both sublime. Why pretend they were competing, Bertrand?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:08 PM on March 3, 2002

Eurobands...OK, maybe I was being hyperbolic. But I'm a Krautrock guy: Can, Faust, Amon Duul II, Nektar. Savage Rose. Ygwie Malmsteen. Laika and the Cosmonauts. Les Negresses Vertes. Oh, oh, I know: Dutch rock to the rescue: Golden Earring, Focus, Shocking Blue, Gruppo Sportivo, Bettie Serveert, Legendary Pink Dots. Surely there are three bands in that list we can agree must rock somehow. (This is the part where Miguel tells me the Netherlands may as well be English.)

Boy, that was hard. At least I didn't have to whip out Plastic People of the Universe or Aquarium (Czech), PFM (Italian), Magma (Hungarian?), Falco (Austrian), Aphrodite's Child (Greek), Hey (Polish) or Actually, there are metal bands in abundance all over Europe, but I only know Zaftig (not to be confused with Zaf Tig).

My big question about the 60s is - Why is Pete Townsend sometimes Pete Townshend?

Two different people. RAF Capt. (I think) Peter Townshend was a love interest of Princess Anne (I think); the country was scandalized because he was a commoner and altogether too dashing for a dowdy Windsor girl.
posted by rodii at 4:14 PM on March 3, 2002

Oops, my "or" was supposed to be followed by the Leningrad Cowboys (Finland).
posted by rodii at 4:15 PM on March 3, 2002

Surely there are three bands in that list we can agree must rock somehow

You win, rodii. Can, Faust and Focus, clearly. Les Negresses Vertes, a sort of French Pogues, I grant you too. But the mystery is, apart from your mysteriously prodigious knowledge and taste, why you don't invoke Kraftwerk. Do you not share? Are you not Devo?

Aphrodite's Child("Rain and Tears")was an awful Greek band with fat Demi Roussos parading in oversize kafkans to the benefit of nobody on earth. He may be slimmer now(or dead)but it's still patronizing to even whisper his old, regrettable sentimentality.

Just tell me if you'll be, in the near future, also mentioning Vangelis or Jean-Michel Jarre in this thread, so I'll have time to pack my stuff and move to Kuro5hin...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:37 PM on March 3, 2002

with about three exceptions, Europeans just never figured out how to rock...

Rodii's already cited a bunch of good examples-to which you could add Wally Tax and the Outsiders(dutch, and no they're not the "Time Won't Let Me" guys), Thor's Hammer(Iceland), Trust(France's gift to Heavy Metal, and an excellent one), and if you'd like some fantastic rock and roll in your native tongue, check out Os Mutantes (they're Brazillian, but same language, right?).
The origins of rock and roll are undeniably American, but the spirit of rock is universal, my man.

Bali - It may be no big deal to you, but Cool & Strange will always have a place in my heart for showing me the glory that is Mrs. Miller.
posted by jonmc at 4:42 PM on March 3, 2002

How many times have you listened to Status Quo after fifteen Newkie Browns?

More times than I can count, Miguel, Quo are after all the Brit equivalent of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

"won't you take a ride in my paper plane....."

posted by jonmc at 4:51 PM on March 3, 2002

Jonmc - it's still patronizing. Imagine it the other way round - three American bands. Yeah, right: impossible. No, like jazz, short stories, big novels, musical theatre, rock music, the blues, songwriting in general, movies, dancing, reportage, folk music, modern painting, weblogs, cocktails, magazines, web sites, commerce, academic excellence and... God knows what else, the U.S. is unsurpassed.

Honestly, it's condescending to mention European bands that are "acceptable". We have our own strengths and aren't so stupid we're unable to recognize superiority when we see it. To our ears it sounds like Woody Allen saying The Cloisters, in Manhattan, is peaceful and quite European...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:58 PM on March 3, 2002

it's condescending to mention European bands that are "acceptable".

There not just "acceptable" Miguel they're excellent and these bands are merely the ones we can name off the top of our heads. Given time we could rattle off close to a thousand excellent British Bands, there's a 200+ page book on my shelf, devoted strictly to Irish rock and roll. And the continent contains countless others. What matters in rock and roll, is soul and integrity, not geography.
posted by jonmc at 5:09 PM on March 3, 2002

What matters in rock and roll, is soul and integrity, not geography

Granted, jonmc. And thank you for the friendly pep talk. You are a friend; definitely. But why would great rock 'n' roll be 90% defined by the U.S.; 9,9% by the U.K. and only 0,1% by all the other hundreds of geographical locations?

Better still, look at the great songwriters: Rodgers, Kern, Berlin, Porter, Arlen, Loesser, Gershwin, Warren, Lerner and Loewe, Sondheim...

It's not about geography; but about culture. Probably something to do with Jewishness; but nothing to do with bloody Europe; that's for sure.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:26 PM on March 3, 2002

Quo are after all the Brit equivalent of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

~But Skynyrd was Welsh!~

Kraftwerk, feh. I feel about them as you do about Aphrodite's Child (who, you will note, were in my "didn't mention" list, although I like 666 back in the day).

Wally Tax, yeah! I used to have his solo album, Tax Free, produced by John Cale (also Welsh; all the good rockers are Welsh, plus Shirley Bassey). Good call, Jon. And if you're going to include Iceland, well...
posted by rodii at 5:28 PM on March 3, 2002

Miguel, this is just friendly rivalry. Manchester United vs. um, Arsenal, or something, OK, bad example. You have Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg and Kurt Weill, we have Chuck Berry, Lou Reed and, uh, Kurt Weill. You have Plastic Bertrand, we have Jerry Vile and the Boners.

And there's a long tradition, from Connie Kay and Eric Dolphy to Giant Sand and the Walkabouts, of American musicians who have to go to Europe to be appreciated, because, when all is said and done, Amercian audiences are crap.

I think the globalization of popular music, though, is going to lead to all kinds of interesting things and render a lot of regional difference pretty unimportant. There are Thai rock bands and Brazilian metal bands and Pinoy hiphop and Samoan country bands happening right now. I heard a soukous band in Nairobi play a whole set of Buddy Holly songs once.
posted by rodii at 5:40 PM on March 3, 2002

Rodii, mea culpa, I should have phrased my question more clearly.

Peter Townshend, so spelled on the cover notes for Empty Glass) is Peter Townsend on my old 45 of "Dogs".

So I've been puzzling over how his name is pronounced.
posted by emf at 5:46 PM on March 3, 2002

I think the globalization of popular music, though, is going to lead to all kinds of interesting things....

Right on target, Rodii. It feels odd to defend globalism, but in this context it's terrific. Bastardization, for lack of a better term, has always been at the heart of popular music.
Just the other day I was pointed toward some Croatian brass music that was as soulful as any jazz I've heard lately.

Actually, an interesting difference between European and American rock is the Euro's were playing for higher stakes. Rodii mentioned the Plastic People of the Universe. Where American bands basically talked about being political revolutionaries for the most part, the Plastics were the real thing. Vaclav Havel has publicly applauded them for their efforts of behalf of his country back in the Iron Curtain days.
posted by jonmc at 5:51 PM on March 3, 2002

I think that's a typo. But wait...you have a 45 of "Dogs"? Isn't that the flip side of "Pinball Wizard?
posted by rodii at 5:52 PM on March 3, 2002

A Most Fab and Groovy site, Voyageman.

European bands that rock? Or should I say rocked, since my ability to absorb new rock bands - or at least remember their names - seems to have atrophied a few decades ago.

Let's see, there was...no, they sucked. And then there was what's his name. Yeah! They were good! Oh.... no, they were from Wisconsin.

No. Zippo. Sorry. But, perhaps if Howlin' Wolf or Muddy Waters sang in Italian, things would have turned out differently.
posted by groundhog at 5:53 PM on March 3, 2002

This is so embarrassing. Los Bravos? Jacques Dutronc? Johnny Fuckin' Halliday?

Well I admit my tongue was in my cheek when I volunteered Halliday, but don't be calling Jacques Dutronc embarrassing. You may have been thinking of those Maurice Chevalier-style chansons that he kept fluffing up his albums with when you said that, but he also had kickass garage-rock tunes like "Les Cactus" and "Le Reponsable" in his repertoire that would've sounded right at home on "Nuggets".
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:53 PM on March 3, 2002

American audiences are crap

Thank you for that, rodii. As someone who has seen Eric Dolphy twice(in Ronnie Scott's in Soho, London) Phil Woods, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett; Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis; Carmen McCrae; Dizzy Gillespie and countless other great artists in little old Lisbon - and then seen them(except Ellington and Gillespie) in New York, in almost empty little jazz clubs, your judgement rings true.

I would say you're spoilt for choice. But at least we provincials appreciate your utter superiority. Your audiences are crap because you have it so good. It's much cooler that way - Carmen McRae saying to my wife, in the Blue Note: "Wake up honey, I'm about to walk off with your boyfriend!" And my wife saying: "I prefer your records"..

MrBaliHai, after your defense of Dutronc, I consider us painfully on the road to divorce...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:07 PM on March 3, 2002

I consider us painfully on the road to divorce...

I want the house and half your book royalties. You can keep the cigar.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:10 PM on March 3, 2002

I knew you hated the cigars!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:12 PM on March 3, 2002

I think that's a typo. But wait...you have a 45 of "Dogs"? Isn't that the flip side of "Pinball Wizard?

No, there's a very average song called "Circles" on the flip.

OK, I've just googled his name, and it seems to be able to be spelled either way!
posted by emf at 7:40 PM on March 3, 2002

re : townsend vs townshend :

www.eelpie.com - "WELCOME TO EELPIE.COM - the e-commerce site for Pete Townshend music and related product"

It's Townshend, with an h.

And that Dogs b/w Circles is an Australian release, which is why you may not have seen it. And circles isn't that bad.
posted by cheaily at 8:36 PM on March 3, 2002

Fair enough, but there seems to be a hell of a lot of people who think it's Townsend.
posted by emf at 8:58 PM on March 3, 2002

The European tradition is cabaret, not rock. Gainsbourg set the precedent of adapting cabaret songwriting to pop styles. Tom Waits and The Pogues (the Irish Negresses Vertes) are the Anglo version of that. I think Miguel's Yankeephilia blinds him to the talent of Dutronc - J'aime les filles - who also played the lead in the best film ever about a painter, and whose wife,
Francoise Hardy, transcends this thread.

But when the French rock....Les Rita Mitsouko.

jonmc: I don't know how you brought Os Mutantes into this discussion, but coming two days after Flaco Jimenez, I'm in awe.
posted by liam at 10:57 PM on March 3, 2002

posted by liam at 11:01 PM on March 3, 2002

Miami 1967 -"They walk out on a stage cool as ice, in unassuming Turtleneck sweaters and slacks looking like jazz hippies from New Orleans, don't let it fool you, they're hot stuff. They could be the hottest English import since the Beatles"

But they were from Manchester - Obscure, brilliant and insufferably cool: their fan club included the Stones, the Shadows and Dusty Springfield, they were the 60's star's stars - The Peddlers, "the group described as "the legendary 60's jazz r/b outfit" or in the words of the great Les Dawson, "amongst the best of the cheap acts".

Still way cool, they're now being sampled by Mr. Scruff amongst others.
posted by niceness at 4:02 AM on March 4, 2002

Liam: Françoise Hardy, mais oui! Definitely. I've been in love with her ever since my Salut Les Copains subscription started about 35 years ago... It was the worst music magazine in the world and I hung on its every word and photograph.

Oh and I saw that film; it's a pity he didn't stick to acting. On a truly French note I prefer Brassens, Leo Ferré and Moustaki. Jacques Brel, of course, was Belgian and one of the most beautiful songs ever written is his "Plat Pays", about Belgium(echoes of Private Lives and Noel Coward's immortal line "Very flat, Norfolk")which begins:


Great French actor, that Avec. Practically in every film.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:20 AM on March 4, 2002

I guess I'm just an older version of the naive, undereducated not-quite-pubescent kid who went ape for the Stones' "19th Nervous Breakdown." Safe as milk, my ass (the Beatles might sounded like that at the time, but not this one). It rocked. I didn't care that the band was part of the British Invasion, and I knew less about music then than I know. All I knew was it rocked harder than anything I'd ever heard; there was something crazy and dangerous about it.
"After the mayhem, it was down to the pub for a pint." Hell, the mayhem was just beginning, especially if Keith Moon was involved. Moon's exploits are legendary--but he enjoyed himself tremendously in his all-too-brief lifetime.
posted by StOne at 9:59 AM on March 4, 2002

By the way, "oozing coolness" sounds like a freon leak.
posted by rodii at 5:47 PM on March 5, 2002

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